NostalgicOutdoors™- Rocky Mountain National Park TRIP PLANNER
A Park to
Rocky Mountain National Park
2014 Trip Planner and Guide
On September 4, 1915, hundreds
of people gathered in Horseshoe
Park to celebrate the dedication of
America’s newest playground, Rocky
Mountain National Park. Signed into
law on January 26 of that same year
by Woodrow Wilson, Rocky
Mountain National Park was created
to protect the incredible resources
found within its boundaries so that
future generations might also benefit
from their beauty and wildness.
Encompassing 415 square miles of
rock-ribbed wildness, Rocky
Mountain National Park is a land of
superlatives. Seventy-two peaks soar
above 12,000 feet, topping off at 14,259
feet on the expansive summit of
Longs Peak. The mountains provide
Rocky Mountain National Park with
its sense of wonder and inspiration.
Today, approximately three
million people visit the park each
year, many driving its roads and
hiking an extensive trail system
offering more than 350 miles of
scenic trails to explore. Despite the
changes around and within, Rocky
Mountain National Park is a bastion
of preservation. And there’s more to
this park than mountains.
The park protects more than 100
square miles of alpine tundra, a land
above the trees. Trail Ridge Road
offers easy summer access to this
wide open, windswept ecosystem
where the startling views seem to
The Continental Divide runs
northwest to southeast through the
park on its course from the Seward
Peninsula in Alaska to the southern
tip of South America. Snowmelt and
rainwater to the west of the Great
Divide flow toward the Pacific
Ocean; runoff to the east is bound
for the distant Gulf of Mexico and
the Atlantic Ocean.
The park also is home to many
gorgeous lakes. Some occupy serene
forested settings. Others are perched
on almost inaccessible shelves high
in the park’s wilderness, remaining
frozen most of the year.
Throughout the park, the
unforgettable sound of rushing
mountain waters breaks the
wilderness silence. Several of the
park’s more than 450 miles of
streams tumble down breathtaking
waterfalls, and the high country gives
rise to small streams and great rivers,
notably the Colorado, the Cache la
Poudre and the Big Thompson.
Stands of ponderosa pine,
Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, aspen,
subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce
adorn the mountainsides. The
forests are interspersed with
mountain meadows that fill with
colorful wildflowers during the
brief high country summer.
This magnificent country ranks
as one of America’s premier wildlife
watching destinations, showcasing
majestic elk, sure-footed bighorn
sheep, hardy ptarmigan and soaring
birds of prey.
People, too, are a part of the
Rocky Mountain National Park
wilderness. Hikers walk trails used by
Indian hunting parties many centuries
ago. Fishermen stalk trout in streams
where trappers once sought beaver.
The failed efforts of prospectors are
remembered at Lulu City, an
abandoned mining town on the park’s
west side. The Holzwarth Historic
Site recalls the early days of tourism.
The people who fought to create
Rocky Mountain National Park in
1915 would be proud to see the park
of today. The foundation that has
been built over the past 100 years
continues to grow and evolve as the
park explores the scientific and
cultural treasures protected within
its boundaries. This foundation will
carry Rocky Mountain National
Park, and the people who care for it,
forward into the next century.
Nature reigns supreme here,
from the highest summits to the
lowest valley floors. The park is a
wild preserve where people — in
their own special ways —
experience nature in all its splendor.
All this is cause for celebration,
Visit the park’s website for more
information at www.nps.gov/romo
A major flood affected the east side of
the park in September, 2013. Between
September 11-13, Rocky Mountain
National Park and surrounding east slope
communities received up to 18 inches of
rain, which caused catastrophic flooding.
The park, which contains many of the
headwaters of this flood, received
significant damage on bridges, roads and
trails. However, damage in the park was relatively minor in comparison
to the disastrous flooding experienced by downstream communities east
of the park. The west side of the park was largely unaffected by the storm.
Due to the flood, backcountry travelers may encounter different
conditions than they have experienced in the past. Visitors may find
missing foot bridges, missing trail segments, uneven trail surfaces,
unstable slopes and fallen trees. In addition, rutted trails and steps,
difficult water crossings, and missing directional signs may also be
encountered. Be prepared.
Most of Rocky Mountain National Park is designated wilderness,
where self-reliance and adventure should be expected. Park staff is
assessing damage and coordinating needed infrastructure repairs. The
park will then determine to what degree damaged trails will be repaired,
given that ninety-five percent of the park is designated wilderness and
taking into consideration that the flood was a natural event.
For up-to-date information and conditions, please check the
park’s website, www.nps.gov/romo, stop by a park visitor center, or
call the Information Office at (970) 586-1206.
Park Flood Conditions Alert
No matter what the season, visits to the stunning
wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park require
planning and preparation. A few tips:
l Most visitors arrive during the summer months.
Expect lots of company on roads, along popular trails
and in parking areas, especially between Memorial Day
and Labor Day, and weekends in September, when
camping reservations inside the park and
lodging reservations outside the park are imperative.
l Trail Ridge Road crests at over 12,000 feet, so don’t
push your physical limits in this region located above
8,000 feet. Altitude sickness symptoms include
shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, rapid
heartbeat and insomnia. Take time to acclimate before
engaging in strenuous activities, and if symptoms
persist, go to lower elevations.
l Beware of falling trees. Increasing numbers of dead
trees creates an ever-present hazard for park visitors.Trees
can fall without warning, especially on windy days or after a
snowstorm, when branches are laden with snow.
l Staying well-hydrated is very important while
visiting the park, but there is limited drinking water
available. Bring your own water containers and refill
them at park visitor centers. Don’t drink directly from
streams or lakes - giardia is present in the park.
l Be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Even on summer days a light jacket or sweater is often
needed to ward off chilly temperatures.
l While not naturally aggressive, black bears have a
sensitive sense of smell that draws them to odiferous
materials, including food, drinks, toiletries, pet food
and cooking items. See proper storage techniques
listed on page 8. Help protect the bears!
l Order trip planning materials from pages 10 and 11 of
this publication. Products featured in the 2014 Guide are
particularly helpful in preparing for a trip to the park.
l Upon arrival, stop by a park visitor center for current
information on everything from road and weather
conditions to hiking trails, camping and ranger-led
l For more information, visit the park’s website at
www.nps.gov/romo or call the Rocky Mountain
National Park Information Office at 970-586-1206. n
Planning Essential for Park Visits
Answer Pages 2-3
Suggested Activities 4
Scenic Drives 5
Hiking & Climbing 6
Longs Peak 6
Popular Hikes 7
Quiet Times 9
Park’s West Side 9
Nature Store 10-11
and Shuttle Info 12
Bighorn sheep lambs, Rocky Mountain National Park.The park is a hiker’s paradise with access to stunning high country scenery and amazing wildlife viewing. (Gene Putney)
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
2 See pages 10-11 for trip planning publications
Rocky Mountain National Park
weather can be changeable and
sometimes extreme. As elevation is
gained, temperatures drop and
precipitation increases, so be prepared
for chilly conditions – especially at
higher altitudes – year-round. Bring
appropriate footwear and clothing for
each season, including rainwear for
summer storms and winter gear
designed to protect against extreme
cold and wind. Layers of insulating,
windproof clothing like synthetic or
wool are recommended at all times of
year, especially for higher elevations.
Temperatures, precipitation, and
conditions can vary year to year, and
sometimes the seasons blur together
- it can snow on the mountains any
month of the year!
(mid-June — early September)
Sunny mornings, afternoon
thunderstorms often with dangerous
lightning, and clear, cool nights
typify this glorious mountain season.
This is the busiest time of year in the
park, when visitors enjoy
wildflowers, possible wildlife
sightings, and most all park facilities
In general, autumn comes early to the
high country. Days often start with
clear, frosty mornings and bright blue
skies, and end with chilly nights.
Snowstorms are possible, and Trail
Ridge Road can temporarily close due
to snow. Trail Ridge usually closes for
the season by mid- to late-October.
The elk rut is at its height from mid-
September through mid-October.
Aspens usually turn golden in the
Grand Lake area in early September.
On the east side, autumn colors
commonly start at Bear Lake in mid-
September and in the Estes Park area
in late September. Temperature, rain,
snow and wind can affect the trees
and cause the leaves to fall early.
(December — March)
Conditions can range considerably
this time of year. Days at lower
elevations on the east side of the
park can be windy, cool and snow-
free, while higher elevations
experience extreme winds, great
temperature ranges and howling
snowstorms. Typical west side winters
have more snow, less wind and cold
temperatures. Though some park
roads and facilities are closed, this is a
quieter time throughout the park and
often a good time to view wildlife.
Snow-shoeing and cross-country and
backcountry skiing are popular
activities on both the east and the
west sides of the park.
(April — mid-June)
Spring in the park is very
unpredictable. March and April are
typically the snowiest months on the
east side, with snows often occurring
in May and even early June. Spring
snows tend to be much wetter.
However, warm, dry, sunny spring
days when the first flowers bloom
and plows are working to clear the
upper reaches of Trail Ridge Road
are also enjoyable.
Trail Ridge Road Status – recorded
message on the current road status,
Colorado Department of
Transportation Road Conditions
877-315-7623 or www.cotrip.org
A wide range of ranger-led walks,
talks and evening programs is offered
throughout the summer. In winter,
ski and snowshoe treks are available
by reservation. Programs are listed in
the official park newspaper. For more
information, call 970-586-1206 or
Leashed pets are allowed only in areas
accessed by vehicles, including
roadsides, picnic areas and
campgrounds. Leashes must be no
longer than six feet. Pets are not
permitted on any park trails, in
meadow areas or in the backcountry.
They are allowed on national forest
trails. Boarding facilities are available in
Populations of trout species,
including brown, brook, rainbow and
cutthroat, are found in the park.
Fishing is permitted in
designated park waters. A valid
Colorado license is required for all
persons 16 years of age and older.
Annual, five-day and one-day
resident and non-resident licenses are
sold in neighboring communities.
Some lakes and streams are
closed to fishing to protect
threatened native species. Other
areas are catch-and-release only, with
special regulations in place. Detailed
information, including license fees,
open and closed waters, methods of
capture and limits on size and
possession, is available at park visitor
centers, ranger stations and online at
Several stables are located in and
around the park, offering guided
rides along park trails. For a list of
private companies contracted to
conduct horseback rides in the park
Private stock is allowed. More
than 260 miles of park trails are open
to horses, mules, ponies, llamas and
burros; visit www.nps.gov/romo/
Bicycling is allowed on all park roads
unless otherwise posted. Bicycling is
not permitted on any trails. Be well
supplied with water and food and
use extreme caution when riding on
park roads. Be aware of narrow,
steep and winding roadways, in
some cases traversing altitudes over
12,000 feet in elevation. Alpine
weather conditions can change
quickly and dramatically, bringing
gusty winds and frequent summer
thunderstorms. Road shoulders are
narrow. There are few guardrails and
many steep drop-offs. Bicyclists
must ride single-file only with the
flow of traffic, and they must obey
all traffic regulations. Motorists:
Give ample room when passing
For additional information, visit
Food & Water
Adequate hydration is important to
help prevent altitude sickness. Drink
plenty of water, two to three times
more than usual. Always take water
During the summer, the only place
to purchase food and beverages in the
park is at the Café atTrail Ridge Store,
adjacent to the Alpine Visitor Center.
When shuttle buses are operating,
bottled water is sold at the Park &
Ride. Restaurants and grocery stores
are located in nearby communities.
The park encourages limiting the
use of plastic water bottles by
refilling reusable water containers at
visitor centers and campgrounds.
Recycling receptacles are available
parkwide. In winter, water is only
available at open visitor centers.
Never drink untreated water from
streams or lakes.
Picnicking is very popular in the
park. Picnic areas are indicated on
the official park map. All are first‐
come, first‐served. Some have fire
grates, some allow portable grills,
and some have restroom/vault toilet
facilities. Visit ww.nps.gov/romo/
planyourvisit/picnicking.htm for more
Lost and Found
Please turn in found items at any
park visitor center. The Backcountry
Office handles lost items; contact
them at 970‐586‐1242.
Bring your wireless electronic device
for free WI‐FI service, available in
and around the Beaver Meadows,
Fall River and Kawuneeche visitor
Firearms are permitted in Rocky
Mountain National Park. As of
February 22, 2010, a federal law
allows people who can legally
possess firearms under federal,
Colorado and local laws, to legally
possess firearms in this park. It is
the visitor’s responsibility to
understand and comply with all
applicable federal, Colorado and
local firearms laws. The discharge of
firearms and hunting within the
park are prohibited.Federal law
prohibits firearms in certain
facilities in Rocky Mountain
National Park, and those places are
posted with signs. Visit
Lodging & Visitor
No lodging is available inside the
park, but hundreds of
accommodations are located in
nearby communities. Contact the
Estes Park Visitor Center (800-443-
www.visitestespark.com) and the
Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce
(800-531-1019, 970-627-3402, or
information on everything from
lodging, camping, restaurants and
retail stores to guided tours,
instruction and gear sales or rentals.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) defines a service animal as
any guide dog, signal dog, or other
animal individually trained to
provide assistance to an individual
with a disability. Service animals
perform some of the tasks that a
disabled individual cannot perform
for themself. Service animals that
have been individually trained to
perform specific tasks for the benefit
of persons with disabilities are
allowed in the park. Emotional
support (“therapy animals”) are not
service animals under the ADA and
may not access trails or other non‐
motorized areas or park buildings.
The Arapaho and Roosevelt National
Forests (ARNF) surround Rocky
Mountain National Park. In addition
to campgrounds, hiking and cross-
country skiing/snowshoeing, the
National Forest offers some
recreational opportunities not
available in the park, including
hiking with dogs, water recreation,
four‐wheeling, hunting, mountain
biking and downhill skiing.
For further information, contact
the ARNF Fort Collins Ranger Station
at 970‐295‐6700; the Boulder Ranger
Station at 303‐541‐2500; the Granby
Ranger Station at 970‐887‐4100; the
Arapaho National Recreation Area
(Lake Granby area) at 970‐887‐4100;
or visit www.fs.fed.us/r2/arnf/
The Park is
Rocky Mountain National Park is
open 24 hours a day year-round.
Visitors can enter or exit any time.
Summer is the busiest time of year.
Visitor center hours vary seasonally.
Some park facilities and roads are
closed during the winter months,
including much of Trail Ridge Road
and Old Fall River Road. If visitors
intend to stay overnight, they must
be in a designated campground site
or a backcountry campsite reserved
by a valid permit. Some park
campgrounds are open in winter.
There is no overnight lodging in the
park; see neighboring communities
for local options.
Permits are required for all camping
in backcountry sites and zones.
Carry-in/carry-out hard-sided bear-
resistant food storage canisters are
required for all backpacking
parkwide between May 1 and
October 31. There are inherent risks
to traveling and camping in the
backcountry. One of those risks is
hazard trees. Campers should assess
their campsite for standing dead
trees that could fall. Camp safely
away from standing dead trees, as
near as is safely possible to the silver
metal arrowhead that marks the site.
Campers should always follow
Leave NoTrace ethics.To prevent
bears from breaking into cars, food
storage lockers are located at several
trailheads for backcountry campers
with extra food. Don’t store extra food
in vehicles overnight! Updates on the
current status of specific backcountry
campsites and use permits are
available from the Backcountry Office.
Reservations for summer permits:
By phone, mail or in person:
March 1 - May 15
By mail, or in person only:
May 16 - September 30
Reservations for winter, spring &
By phone, mail or in person:
Jan. 1 - May 15; Oct. 1 - Dec. 31
RMNP Campground Information — Summer 2014
(cash only at
Yes; can be filled by
Yes 30’ Flush No, use
• Located in a pine forest near Fall River
just inside the Fall River Entrance on US
Hwy 34, west of Estes Park
• Within walking distance of the Fall
River Visitor Center
Cell phones do not work in Aspenglen
Yes; can be filled by
Yes 35’ Flush Yes • Located in a lodgepole pine forest
along Bear Lake Road
• On summer shuttle bus route
• Hazard trees removed, so no shade in
C-, D- & Group -Loops
Yes; can be filled by
Yes Tents only Flush N/A • Fee is $3 per person per night
• Located in a lodgepole pine forest
along Bear Lake Road
• Hazard trees removed, so no shade
Firewood only Tents only Vault N/A • Located 9 miles souh of Beaver
Meadows Visitor Center off of Hwy 7
• Trailhead to Longs Peak and other
Yes; A-,C- & D-
Loops can be filled
B-Loop is first-
sites up to
Yes • Located in a ponderosa pine forest
above the meadows of Moraine Park;
• Trails from the campground connect
to numerous other trails
• Access to free summer shuttle to Bear
Lake and Estes Park from campground
• Solar-heated shower bag stall facility
Firewood only 30’ Flush Yes • The only west side campground
• Near the Colorado River, 10 miles
north of Grand Lake on US Hwy 34
(Trail Ridge Road)
• Hazard trees removed, so no shade
By mail, or in person:
Any time of year
Backcountry Offices are located
next door to the Beaver Meadows
Visitor Center on the east side and
at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center
on the west side. An administrative
fee of $20 is charged for backcountry
camping between May 1 and
October 31. For details and further
reservation information, visit
l Every park campsite has a tent
pad, fire grate and picnic table.
l Except for Longs Peak
Campground, which only accepts
tents, all campgrounds can
accommodate tent trailers, tents,
pickup campers, trailers and
motorhomes. More than one tent is
allowed as long as they all fit on the
all campsites are $20.00/site/night.
When the water is off in the winter,
all campsites are $14.00/site/night.
l Moraine Park Campground has a
stall facility to hang your shower
bag. There are no other shower
facilities in the park.
l America the Beautiful Senior and
Access Pass holders receive a 50%
discount on camping fees.
l Quiet hours: 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.
Generator hours: 7:30 – 10:00 a.m.
and 4:00 – 8:30 p.m. (where allowed).
l Maximum 8 people per site.
l Stay Limit: 7-nights total, parkwide,
14 nights allowed October 1 – May 31.
l Reservations are highly
recommended and may be made up
to 6 months in advance at 877-444-
6777 or at www.reserveamerica.
com, or use the Recreation.gov
l Rocky has many accessible
facilities for visitors, including
visitor centers, scenic overlooks,
self-guided trails, campgrounds,
some picnic areas, and a
backcountry campsite. The Access
Rocky brochure is available online
and the park website offers
additional information at
l Most park shuttle buses are
accessible and can accommodate
wheelchairs. Contact shuttle staff or
rangers if accommodation is needed.
l The park film is captioned for
hearing impaired visitors at Beaver
Meadows and Kawuneeche visitor
centers, and features audio
description for the visually
impaired at Beaver Meadows
l The TTY for hearing impaired
callers to the park is 970‐586‐1319.
l The Sprague Lake Accessible
Backcountry Campsite is available
by reservation. This site can
accommodate 12 campers,
including five wheelchairs. The
administrative permit fee is $20
between May 1 and October 31.
Call the Backcountry Office for
more information, 970‐586‐1242.
Phone & Web Info
Park website: www.nps.gov/romo
General park information:
Trail Ridge Road status:
.com or Recreation.gov (iPhone App)
Colorado Travel and Tourism:
When famed Rocky Mountain News
editor William Byers visited this
region back in 1864, he tried to
climb Longs Peak. Byers failed, but
he had a memorable experience
making it to the summit of
neighboring Mount Meeker.
To anyone planning a visit to
this stretch of the Rockies, Byers
advised a trip of at least eight days.
Of course, he traveled by horseback
and it took him a couple of days just
to get here from Denver. But a week
in this area definitely is worth
considering, especially if you’re in
search of the perfect trip. Here are
some suggestions on how to spend
seven days in Rocky:
DAY ONE: Time to stretch
those legs. Pick a gentle trail for a
stroll. Wander to a nearby waterfall
(maybe Copeland, Adams or
Alberta) or around a beautiful lake
(perhaps Bear, Sprague or Lily).
Many people require a day or two to
get used to the altitude, and some
time spent at the park’s lower
elevations is a good idea.
DAY TWO: If you’re feeling
acclimated to the elevation, explore
the high country by car. The trip
across Trail Ridge Road is punctuated
by many scenic overlooks that will
introduce you to the region. There’s
lots to see – scenery, wildlife and
wildflowers. A leisurely drive with
lots of stops, short walks and chats
with the rangers will make this a
memorable outing. Top off your full
day with an evening ranger talk at
one of the campgrounds. (Inquire at
a visitor center or call 970-586-1206
for topics and times.)
DAY THREE: Begin your
morning with a ranger-led
birdwatching expedition. (See the
park newspaper for programs.) You
do not have to be an avid
birdwatcher to enjoy an introduction
to this informative and interesting
activity. In only an hour or two, you
can learn a lot about the park and its
wild inhabitants. Spend the rest of
the day walking on the road along
Moraine Park toward Fern Lake
trailhead, exploring the Big
Thompson River and stopping for a
picnic along the way.
DAY FOUR: Do what the locals
do: Hike the backcountry. Pick a more
ambitious walk to a location suited to
your ability. (See page 7 of this
publication for hiking suggestions.)
Plan on an afternoon rain shower.
DAY FIVE: Take a Rocky
Mountain Field Seminar. The non-
profit Rocky Mountain Nature
Association offers half-day, day-long
and multi-day classes for adults, kids
and families on all sorts of natural
and cultural history subjects. In a
short time and at a reasonable cost,
you can learn a lot from experts
about subjects such as outdoor
skills, photography, wildlife, art and
history. (Reservations are required.
For information and registration,
call 970-586-3262 or visit
DAY SIX: Now that you’re
better acclimated, it’s time to try a
more rigorous hike. High country
lakes are especially popular
destinations. Today, you also can
apply what you learned from your
chats with rangers, the birdwatching
trip and your seminar.
DAY SEVEN: Try something
new. Perhaps you’ve never ridden a
horse, been fly fishing, climbed a
mountain or sketched an alpine
scene. Here’s your chance. After
you’ve sampled one or two Rocky
Mountain wonders, you’ll find
there’s a lot more to do than you
thought. But after this first week,
you’re off to a great start. n
A WEEK IN THE PARK
Rocky Has Plenty to See & Do
What can we see in a single day in Rocky Mountain
National Park? Lots of mountains, that’s for sure.
Whatever else you see here depends on what you’re
looking for, but Rocky has so much to offer, so try
l Drive Trail Ridge Road. It is one of America’s most
spectacular scenic drives and every one of the many
overlooks provides amazing views.
l Take a hike. Experience the wilderness of the park’s
backcountry. There are lots of trails and a wide
variety of destinations, from lakes and waterfalls to
summits, forests and meadows.
l Watch for wildlife. Viewing the great variety of
animals and birds is one of the most popular activities
in the park. Elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep are
seen year round.
l Attend a ranger‐led program. Year‐round, park
rangers lead a variety of interesting and informative
walks, talks, hikes, evening programs and more.
Check schedules in current park newspapers.
l Become a Junior Ranger. Kids 12 and younger can
particpate, with fun activity books the whole family
can enjoy (in English and Spanish). Pick up a booklet
at a park visitor center and earn a Junior ranger
l Visit a visitor center or historical site. Stop at a
visitor center and explore the exhibits and talk to a
l Visit Holzwarth Historic Site. Get a taste of early
tourism at one of the first dude ranches in Colorado.
Keep your eyes peeled for moose in the Kawuneeche
l Enjoy a picnic. Many places within the park
provide pleasant outdoor settings made better with
family, friends and food. Look for picnic icons on the
l Take pictures. The park is perfect for photography.
Wildlife is abundant and the mountain scenes tend to
change hourly with varying light, clouds and shadows.
Kids are born naturalists. They
access the natural world by
asking questions. Introducing
children to the outdoors can begin
at any time, but why not begin
early? And why not start them out
in Rocky Mountain National Park,
one of the country’s premier
Infants can be carried in a front
pack, tucked inside the jacket if it’s
chilly. Hike anywhere. The
stunning scenery and the fresh
mountain air will put them to sleep
in short order.
Toddlers more actively interact
with nature. It is a time of
observation, of making connections
and stockpiling information. This is
a wonderful time to introduce them
to one of the many discovery trips
found around the park. A few
j Explore the edges of Bear Lake
while enjoying the guidebook‐
guided trail tour that explains the
area’s interesting natural and
human history. Water holds an
amazing variety of plant and
animal life that will pique a child’s
j Discover Rocky Mountain’s
wonderful wildlife. At particular
times throughout the year (ask a
park ranger), the bighorn sheep
come down to Sheep Lakes. Kids
especially enjoy watching them
cross the road after the lambs are
born in late May.
j Kids a little bit older might
enjoy expending energy hiking
along a trail, but most seem happiest
thoroughly exploring a smaller
area. On any hike with 3‐ to 6‐ year‐
olds, it’s a good idea to include a
magnifying glass in the backpack.
Textures of trees, plants, bugs and
rocks are exciting when viewed
j Children love climbing on
rocks. The trail to Gem Lake is a
rocky paradise lined by boulders
that are perfectly arranged for
climbing. The scenery is inspiring
for parents and kids alike.
j In the early summer, enjoy the
amazing display of colorful
wildflowers found along the trails to
Cub Lake and around Lily Lake.
Have the youngsters keep an eye
out for hummingbirds that may be
visiting the flowers. Watch for
beaver activity along streams. Beaver
dams, active or abandoned, are easy
to spot, and stream banks are ideal
places to look for animal tracks.
j Kids ages 12 and under have
fun learning about the park
through the popular Junior Ranger
program. Age‐specific Junior
Ranger activities booklets are
available for free at visitor centers
throughout the park in both
English and Spanish. After
completing the activities in the
colorful, heavily illustrated
booklets, youngsters are awarded
an official Rocky Mountain
National Park Junior ranger badge.
In the summer, kids can enjoy the
special Junior Ranger programs
and earn their badge at Junior
Ranger Headquarters at Hidden
Watching wildlife is one of the most popular activities for visitors in the park.
(NPS Debbie Biddle)
A DAY IN THE PARK
A List of “Must Do’s” While in Rocky!
4 See pages 10-11 for trip planning publications
Discover Nature With Your Kids
RMNA Nature Stores
ä A Day in Rocky
Make a Difference!!
Hey, kids! Be sure to pick up a
Junior Ranger activity booklet at
any park visitor center - it’s full of
fun games and great stuff to
discover with your family and
friends. When you’re finished, you
can earn an official Junior Ranger
badge! There’s more national park
adventures to be found at home -
visit these park websites for some
cool park activities:
(click on webrangers)
(click on Junior Ranger)
(click on Just for Kids!)
W I L D
Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain
National Park’s renowned highway to
the sky, inspired awe before the first
motorist ever traveled it. “It is hard to
describe what a sensation this new
road is going to make,” predicted
Horace Albright, director of the
National Park Service, in 1931 during
the road’s construction. “You will have
the whole sweep of the Rockies before
you in all directions.”
The next year, Rocky Mountain’s
wilderness interior was introduced to
the first travelers along an auto route
Denver’s Rocky Mountain News
proclaimed a “scenic wonder road
of the world.”
Was all this simply exaggeration?
Spanning the 50 miles between
Estes Park on the park’s east side and
Grand Lake on the west,Trail Ridge
Road is the highest continuous paved
highway in the United States. Eleven
miles of this high highway travel above
treeline, the elevation near 11,000 feet
where the park’s evergreen forests
come to a halt. As it winds across the
alpine tundra’s vastness to its high
point at 12,183 feet elevation,Trail Ridge
Road offers motorists thrilling views,
wildlife sightings and spectacular
alpine wildflower displays.
Whether they begin their journey
at Estes Park or Grand Lake,Trail
Ridge Road travelers climb some 4,000
feet in a matter of minutes.The
changes that occur en route are
fascinating to observe. Montane
woodlands of aspen and ponderosa
pine soon give way to thick subalpine
forests of fir and spruce. At treeline, the
last stunted, wind-battered trees yield
to the alpine tundra.
Up on that cold, windswept world,
conditions resemble those found in the
Canadian or Alaskan Arctic. The
tundra normally is windy and 20 to
30 degrees cooler than Estes Park or
Grand Lake. The sun beats down with
high-ultraviolet intensity. The vistas,
best enjoyed from one of several
marked road pullovers, are
extravagant, sweeping north to
Wyoming, east across the Front Range
cities and Great Plains, south and west
into the heart of the Rockies.
For all its harshness, the Trail
Ridge tundra is a place of vibrant life
and vivid colors. Pikas, marmots,
ptarmigans and bighorn sheep may
be seen. About 200 species of tiny
alpine plants hug the ground.
Despite a growing season that lasts
less than 50 days, many plants bloom
exuberantly, adorning the green
summer tundra with swatches of
yellow, red, pink, blue, purple and
white. All colors are seen from the
Tundra Communities Trail, a half-
hour walk beginning near the
parking area at Rock Cut.
Below treeline, forested moraines,
great heaps of earth and rock debris
left behind by melting Ice Age glaciers,
rise above lush mountain meadows.
The Continental Divide, where
streamflows are separated east from
west, is crossed at Milner Pass, located
in subalpine woodlands at a
surprisingly low 10,120 feet elevation.
Moose munch greenery in the upper
reaches of the Colorado River, which
flows through the scenic Kawuneeche
Valley. Grazing elk greet sunrise and
sunset in many of the park’s forest-
Trail Ridge Road is a paved two-
lane U.S. Highway (34) with virtually
no shoulders or guardrails.The road is
only open when weather conditions
are favorable, usually late-May through
At all elevations, the drive onTrail
Ridge Road is a memorable adventure.
Put aside at least a half day for the trip.
Longer, if possible.
It’s worth the time.The
experience, to be sure, is hard to
Magnificent mountain scenery is commonplace along Trail Ridge Road, a summer‐only
highway that climbs to a high point of 12,183 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park.
(NPS Ann Schonlau)
Sweeping Vistas Abound
on Trail Ridge Road
One of the most popular scenic
drives on the east side of Rocky
Mountain National Park, Bear Lake
Road travels 9.3 miles into the heart
of the Glacier Gorge region to Bear
Lake. This jewel of a lake sits at the
foot of the Continental Divide at
9,475 feet of elevation. And there’s a
reason that this area is a favorite – it’s
For those traveling this historic
road, however, it’s not only the
destination of Bear Lake that
beckons. The route itself offers an
array of activities that branch from it
like a web, many of which also are
accessible using the free shuttle buses
that service the Bear Lake Road corridor during the summer.
Located off U.S. Highway 36 just west of the Beaver Meadows
Entrance Station, this scenic drive begins in Moraine Park (‘park’ is the
historic, local term for a valley), where visitors take a drive through geologic
history. The giant meadow is the path of an ancient glacier that moved
boulders and crushed rocks in its path, leaving behind a wide open space
where the meadow now exists. Framing this lush meadow are hills, called
moraines, which are the remains of the rocks and debris that were pushed
aside by this ancient wall of moving ice.
Through Moraine Park runs the Big Thompson River that attracts a
variety of wildlife to its shores for the life-sustaining qualities the river
provides. Two trailheads are nearby at the end of Moraine Campground
road – Fern Lake and Cub Lake trailheads – and are themselves the
gateways to gorgeous waterfalls, lakes and mountain summits.
Moraine Park Campground welcomes campers to this delightful spot at
the edge of the meadow to spend a night under the stars in a tent or in a
camper. Visitors have nearby access to riding stables, hiking and evening
programs that are offered by park rangers throughout the summer.
Continuing on along Bear Lake Road and winding through forests of
pine, spruce, fir and aspen, several picnic areas are positioned along the
road itself. These sites are marked on the official park map handed out at
the entrance stations. Be forewarned – no picnic tables are located at Bear
Moving along Bear Lake Road, a stop at scenic Sprague Lake is well
worth the time. Here, a stroll around the packed gravel accessible trail
offers breathtaking views of the Continental Divide – as well as the
occasional moose and other wildlife. The trail is perfect for strollers and
invites a picnic lunch at the picnic site nearby. For a summer backcountry
experience, Sprague Lake Camp is a rustic wheelchair-accessible
backcountry campsite that can be reserved ahead of time through the
park’s Backcountry Office. Wintertime at Sprague Lake offers a number of
trails for great backcountry skiing and snowshoeing routes as well.
Further along on Bear Lake Road, the trail to Bierstadt Lake beckons
dedicated hikers and climbs to a high-mountain lake nestled in the pines.
Though not for the faint of heart, the switchbacks on the trail reward a
hiker’s determination with views that will not disappoint.
At the terminus of this popular road lies Bear Lake itself. A hub of the
park’s trail system in Glacier Gorge, the area is surrounded by scenic
mountains – and lots of people. A short jaunt from the parking lot leads
directly to the lake, where Hallett Peak dramatically rises across the water
and where aspen trees throw caution to the winds with their colorful autumn
display. Packed gravel covers what is considered a disabled-accessible trail
over partially uneven ground, and whatever the season, it’s a delightful walk
in the high country.
Bear Lake is the site of much historical activity, including the Bear Lake
Lodge and the Bear Lake Trail School, a youth camp for boys, now both
removed. Today, this site remains a premier park experience. Boasting
amazing views of Hallett Peak and Longs Peak, the beginning of many
hiking adventures in the high country, and as a quintessential scenic site,
Bear Lake means many things to many people.
And the route to get there offers a
host of opportunities for making
lasting memories; of family, friends,
and of this amazing place. n
Bear Lake Road Offers
Scenery and Much More
Along with Trail Ridge Road, Bear
Lake Road is one of the busiest during
the summer season. (Tim Argenziano)
Trail Ridge Road usually opens for
the season on the Friday of
Memorial Day weekend. It is not
uncommon for the road to be
closed temporarily during the
summer season because of
snowfalls. Heavy snows typically
close the road for the winter season
More information about
Bear Lake Road available at:
More information about
Trail Ridge Road available at:
RMNA Nature Stores
ä Geology Along Trail Ridge Rd
ä Guide to Trail Ridge Road
ä Bear Lake Nature Trail
When Are the Park Roads Open?
in mid- to late October.
Old Fall River Road was heavily
damaged in the September, 2013,
flood. For current information, please
check the park’s website, ww.nps.gov/
stop by a park visitor center, or call the
Information Office at 970-586-1206.
Bear Lake Road is open year-
round, but visitors are strongly
urged to take advantage of the free
summer Bear Lake Road corridor
shuttle bus service. (See page 12
for shuttle information.) n
Approximately one-third of Rocky
Mountain National Park is alpine
tundra, which generally begins at
elevations above 10,500 feet and
boasts some of the most dramatic
mountain scenery imaginable.
Many tundra trekkers are
captivated by sweeping views
encompassing rock, ice, sky and
distant ranges. But pausing to take in
wonders of the alpine world can
enhance the hiking experience. The
vast, wide-open landscape in this land
above the trees tells some amazing
stories of adaptation and survival.
Animals such as American pikas
and Yellow-bellied marmots can be
found in rocky areas, where they
persevere in an arctic-like climate.
Elk find relief from summer’s heat in
this high-altitude environment.
Several species of birds spend the
summer on the tundra, including
Horned larks, well-camouflagedwhite-
With the exception of the
Tundra Protection Areas located at
the Alpine View Trail, Rock Cut,
Tundra Communities Trail, Forest
Canyon Overlook and Gore Range
Overlook, visitors are permitted to
hike on the tundra throughout the
park. Alpine plants may be adaptable
to the rugged climate above treeline,
but they are no match for the soles
of hiking boots. Areas repeatedly
trod by hikers can take decades to
recover as the short alpine growing
season provides only a few weeks
for damaged plant communities to
l Obey regulations prohibiting
off-trail hiking in the Tundra
Protection Areas. These zones are
located in places where visitation
is highest, and hikers must stay on
l Always stay on hiking trails
where they exist.
l Walk on rocks or snow when
possible to avoid contact with the
alpine tundra’s fragile plant life.
l Minimize trampling. When
Chiking off-trail across the open
tundra, never walk single-file. n
Hiking & Climbing
Enjoy and Protect Rocky’s
Fragile Alpine Tundra
Alpine avens, King’s crown, Chiming bells
and other exquisite alpine plants are easily
damaged by careless hikers. (Nancy Wilson)
At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak towers above all other
summits in RockyMountain National Park. Different
angles show the great mountain’s unique profiles. Changing
weather reflects Longs Peak’s manymoods.
In the summertime – the season when thousands
attempt to climb to Longs’ summit – those moods can
be unpredictable. Variable weather, including snow,
cold temperatures and gusty winds can occur at any
time. Most days see clouds building in the afternoon
sky, often exploding in storms of brief, heavy rain,
thunder and dangerous lightning. People usually start
hiking well before dawn to avoid these weather-related
The Keyhole Route is usually free of ice and snow
between mid-July and early September, though
conditions do vary. Check with a ranger, call 970-586-
1206, or visit the park website www.nps.gov/romo/
It is a strenuous eight miles one-way with an
elevation gain of 4,850 feet, crossing sheer vertical
rock faces, narrow ledges, loose rock and steep cliffs.
Good route-finding and rock scrambling skills are a
must to follow the red and yellow bull’s eyes that mark
the route at the steepest areas. To lose the trail may
mean more difficult climbing with potentially severe
consequences, so climbers are advised to follow the
trail with care. Physical fitness and acclimation to the
high altitude are required.
Weather is another challenge often faced on
Longs Peak, and one that can be difficult to predict.
Along the Keyhole Route, extreme conditions can
appear suddenly and drastically, ranging from gale-
force winds, thunderstorms and lightning to freezing
temperatures, hail and snow. These conditions require
greater mountaineering skills and sound judgment.
This challenging route was the choice of British
adventurer Isabella Bird in 1873. Her words of wonder
and praise for Longs Peak, which concluded that it
was “much more than a mountain,” ring true today as
if the ink in her book, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky
Mountains, was still fresh.
Tragically, there are those who never left Longs
Peak alive. A stone gazebo at the Keyhole formation
displays a plaque memorializing Agnes Vaille, a well-
known climber in the 1920s who succeeded in making
the first winter ascent of the mountain’s precipitous
East Face by a woman in January, 1925. Sadly, she met
her death upon her descent during freezing blizzard
Agnes Vaille and more than 50 other climbers
have lost their lives on Longs Peak. It is not a
mountain tolerant of the unprepared.
Keyhole Route climbers should be properly
outfitted with sturdy footwear, layers of clothing,
high-energy food and plenty of water. Use caution
when ascending or descending steep areas, and be
aware that high elevations can affect conditioning and
judgment. Don’t be too proud to back off when bad
weather threatens or when conditions are marginal.
Climbing Longs Peak is an experience not easily
forgotten. But it is essential to be prepared, to be aware of
surroundings and weather conditions, and always to use
common sense. Have a safe trip. n
Much More Than a Mountain
Much of the year, snow covers Longs Peak, the park’s highest
mountain summit. (NPS John Marino)
6 See pages 10-11 for trip planning publications
The Guide is
by the Rocky Mountain
Nature Association and
Rocky Mountain National Park.
Mountain adventures in the park
are not limited to hiking. Technical
climbing routes abound east of the
Lower-elevation climbing is
especially popular on Lumpy Ridge.
Less- accessible technical climbing
routes can be found high above treeline.
They often involve a lengthy hike,
higher elevations and considerably
greater skill and risk.
For more information about
specific climbing sites, safety
precautions and regulations, contact
the park’s Backcountry Office at
Learn more about Rocky’s alpine tundra:
Learn more about climbing Longs Peak:
Know Before You Hike...
l Stay together - don’t separate on the trail
and always keep children with the group.
l Leave detailed plans of your itinerary,
and stick to the plan!
l Be aware of falling trees, which are
hazards throughout the park.
l Don’t count on cell phone service in
the park - there are many “dead” spots in
this rugged terrain.
l Be aware and prepared for changing
weather. Thunderstorms develop quickly,
so avoid being above treeline after noon
when thunderstorms often occur.
l Drink lots of water to stay hydrated in
this dry climate, and bring high-energy
snacks to fuel your hike.
l Wear sturdy footwear for rocky park trails.
l Practice Leave No Trace ethics: plan
ahead and prepare; travel on durable
surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave
what you find; respect wildlife; be
considerate of other visitors.
Pets are not allowed on any park trails!
Bus Tour Adventures in
Rocky Mountain National Park!
with Rocky Mountain Field Seminars
® Grand Lake Safari: Educational Adventure by Bus
® Journey to the Top! A Trail Ridge Road Bus Adventure
® Elk Expeditions
Sit back and experience the park with a professional naturalist in these
educational park tours. Available throughout the summer, from June through
October. Ask for a schedule at park visitor centers, or, call 970-586-3262 for
more information. Visit www.rmna.org to register!
A program of the Rocky
Mountain Nature Association
RMNA Nature Stores
ä Alpine Wildflowers of the
ä Trails Illustrated Topo Maps
Destination Trailhead Distance
(one-way in miles)
NYMPH LAKE Bear Lake 0.5
This is a great “get into shape” hike for new park arrivals.
DREAM LAKE Bear Lake 1.1
Dramatic scenery rewards hikers making this short climb.
BIERSTADT LAKE Bierstadt Lake 1.4
Bear Lake 1.6
This popular mountain lake is nestled in heavy timber.
THE POOL Fern Lake 1.7
A deep pool of the BigThompson offers a peaceful respite.
EMERALD LAKE Bear Lake 1.8
GEM LAKE Lumpy Ridge 1.8
The trail to this pretty lake usually is hikable year-round.
LAKE HAIYAHA Bear Lake 2.1
Haiyaha is almost surrounded by the Continental Divide.
CUB LAKE Cub Lake 2.3
This trail is adorned with early summer wildflowers.
MILLS LAKE Glacier Gorge 2.8
Sweeping mountain scenery surrounds this lovely lake.
THE LOCH Glacier Gorge 3.0
The popular lake sits in an inspiring mountain setting.
FERN LAKE Fern Lake 3.8
A tourist lodge once sat upon Fern Lake’s scenic shoreline.
ODESSA LAKE Bear Lake 4.1
Fern Lake 4.4
Dramatic peaks loom above this stunning mountain lake.
CHASM LAKE Longs Peak 4.2
Don’t feed the begging marmots by this rugged lake.
SANDBEACH LAKE Sandbeach Lake 4.2
A steady climb rewards hikers with fine scenery.
FINCH LAKE Finch Lake 4.5
Remnants of the 1978 Ouzel Fire highlight this Wild
YPSILON LAKE Lawn Lake 4.5
Views of Ypsilon Mountain grace the MummyRange lake.
SKY POND Glacier Gorge 4.9
Divide views surround an awesome destination.
BLACK LAKE Glacier Gorge 5.0
This mountain lake is set above dramatic Ribbon Falls.
LONE PINE LAKE East Inlet 5.5
A sheer rock wall ascends from Lone Pine’s far shore.
BLUEBIRD LAKE Wild Basin 6.0
PEAR LAKE Finch Lake 6.5
Hikers find solitude at a remote Wild Basin destination.
THUNDER LAKE Wild Basin 6.8
This high-elevation lake sits in a flower-filled meadow.
LAKE VERNA East Inlet 6.9
Fjord-like Lake Verna rewards the ambitious hiker.
LION LAKE No. 1 Wild Basin 7.0
Wildflowers grow in profusion at this subalpine lake.
SPIRIT LAKE East Inlet 7.8
Some hike to the remote west side lake to fish.
LAKE NOKONI North Inlet 9.9
Tranquility abounds at this distant west side lake.
LAKE NANITA North Inlet 11.0
Hiking in the park’s interior is a wilderness experience.
COPELAND FALLS Wild Basin 0.3
This easy hike to a beautiful setting is ideal for families.
ALBERTA FALLS Glacier Gorge 0.8
Bear Lake 0.9
This dramatic waterfall is a popular park destination.
CALYPSO CASCADESWild Basin 1.8
The waterfall was named in honor of the calypso orchid.
FERN FALLS Fern Lake 2.7
This refreshing, inspiring place is perfect for trail breaks.
OUZEL FALLS Wild Basin 2.7
These scenic falls are frequently photographed.
CASCADE FALLS North Inlet 3.5
A gentle west side hike through a lodgepole forest.
TIMBERLINE FALLS Glacier Gorge 4.0
Seeing this jewel of a waterfall is well worth the climb.
Mountain SummitsMountain Summits
All hikes to mountain summits are strenuous. Be sure to
thoroughly research your route ahead of time and pack
plenty of food, water and extra clothing.
DEER MTN. (10,013’) Deer Mountain 3.0
Fine views make this a great picnic destination.
PEAKS (11,428’) Twin Sisters 3.9
These two peaks offer outstanding vistas. Don’t be
misled by a false summit along the way.
FLATTOP MTN. (12,324’)Bear Lake 4.4
It’s an arduous climb to this peak offering panoramic views
and access to many other great mountain summits.
ESTES CONE (11,006’) Lily Lake 3.7
The views from the top of this peak are some of the finest
in the park. Be prepared for a steep, rough trail after
Historic SitesHistoric Sites
TUNDRA COMMUNITIES TRAIL (Strollers OK)0.5
EUGENIA MINE Longs Peak 1.4
Mine remains in the Longs Peak area recall the dashed
hopes of early prospectors.
LULU CITY Colorado River 3.7
This 1800s mining camp boomed briefly and went bust.
HISTORIC SITE Trail Ridge Road 0.5 Strollers permitted
It’s a short walk on a level gravel trail to this dude ranch complex developed in the early 1900s.
SPRAGUE LAKE Sprague Lake .5 (loop) Strollers permitted
Lovelyviews of the Continental Divide grace this level, hardened trail.An accessible campsite is located in the area.
BEAR LAKE NATURE TRAIL Bear Lake 0.6 (loop) Partially accessible, strollers permitted
An excellent booklet-guided nature trail circles this popular subalpine lake at the end of Bear Lake Road.
LILY LAKE Lily Lake 0.7 (loop) Strollers permitted
Look for wildflowers in the spring and early summer along the level gravel trail around a mountain lake.
COYOTE VALLEY Coyote Valley 1.0 (loop) Strollers permitted
Elk and moose sometimes are seen from this level gravel trail, especially during dawn and dusk.
ADAMS FALLS East Inlet Trailhead 0.3 Hiking trail
It’s a short hike to a dramatic waterfall near Grand Lake on the west side of the park.
MORAINE PARK VISITOR CENTER
NATURE TRAIL Moraine Park Visitor Center 0.6 (loop) Hiking trail
Interpretive signs and a full‐color booklet guide visitors along this scenic nature trail in Moraine Park.
l Sturdy footwear
l Rain gear
l Layered clothing
l Sweater or jacket
l Long pants
l Gloves and hat
l Extra socks
l Sun block
l Pocket knife
l High-energy snacks
l First aid kit
l Waterproof matches
l Plenty of water
l Topo map and
compass or other
Coyote Valley Trail (Joan Nesselroad)
Park Visitor Center
Five visitor centers are located in the park to assist
you during your visit. Hours vary, but all offer park
information, restrooms and a park bookstore. The
free park movie is shown at Beaver Meadows and
Kawuneeche visitor centers. Check the park
newspaper or www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/
visitor_centers.htm for hours and more information.
Beaver Meadows: Located on Hwy 36 west of
Estes Park; free park movie; Backcountry Office next
door; free Wi-Fi
Fall River: Located on Hwy 34 west of Estes Park;
exhibits; free Wi-Fi
Moraine Park: Located on Bear Lake Road; exhibits
Alpine: Located atop Trail Ridge Road; exhibits;
adjacent restaurant & gift store
Kawuneeche: Located on Hwy 34 north of Grand
Lake; exhibits; free Wi-Fi
Due to the flood of September, 2013,
backcountry travelers may encounter missing
foot bridges, missing trail segments, uneven
trail surfaces, unstable slopes and fallen
trees. In addition, rutted trails and steps,
difficult water crossings, and missing
directional signs also may be encountered.
RMNA Nature Stores
ä Best of Bear Lake Country
ä Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park
ä Rocky Mountain Day Hikes
ä The Longs Peak Experience
Accessible and Family-friendly Trails
Watching Wildlife Tips
Never, ever feed wildlife, including birds and chipmunks. Feeding
reduces their ability to survive the long mountain winter. When they
panhandle by roadsides, animals fall easy prey to automobiles. As they
become habituated to humans and lose their natural fear, the animals
become aggressive and may be destroyed. Feeding or harassing wildlife is
illegal in all national parks.
Wildlife is unpredictable - watch from a distance. For your safety and
theirs, use binoculars or a telephoto lens to get close-up views. Following
larger animals too closely to get a photograph or a better look can stress
them and threaten their health. If animals notice you or if they seem
nervous, you are too close. Move away quietly.
Obey all signs posting closed areas. At different times of the year, some areas
are closed to protect wildlife during nesting, mating and birthing seasons.
Use of wildlife calls and spotlights is illegal. They stress animals and alter
their natural behavior.
Keep pets in your vehicle. They may scare wildlife, and wild animals can
hurt your pet.
Large animals such as elk, sheep, bears and mountain lions can be
dangerous. Check at visitor centers for valuable tips on safety around wildlife.
Drive slowly and cautiously. Watch for animals crossing the road. Deer
and elk are seldom alone. If you see one animal, look for others that may
Stop your car to watch animals only if you can pull off the road safely
and completely. Do not block traffic.
When possible, get away from roadsides and sit quietly to observe and
listen for wildlife. Talk only when necessary, and do so quietly so you don't
disturb the animals or other
wildlife watchers. If viewing
from your vehicle, turn off
the motor. n
Rocky Mountain National Park
visitors have a passion for viewing wild
animals, especially the large ones. With
elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and
moose calling the park home, it’s no
surprise that wildlife watching is rated
the number-one activity by a vast
majority of Rocky’s visitors.
The park’s great large-animal
population makes it one of the
country’s top wildlife watching
destinations. But also found in Rocky
Mountain National Park are nearly 60
other species of mammals, more than
280 recorded bird species, six
amphibians (including the endangered
boreal toad), one reptile (the harmless
garter snake), 11 species of fish and
countless insects, including a
surprisingly large number of
butterflies. On this page are a few of
the wild residents park visitors might
Habitat: Rock piles at higher elevations
Viewing Tips: Listen for its sharp,
distinctive bark and watch for
movement among the rocks.
Habitat: Meadows, and where meadows
and forests meet. Common at lower
elevations in the fall, winter and spring
Viewing Tips: Look for elk at dawn
and dusk. During the fall mating
season, bull elk can be heard
bugling and seen sparring
with their large antlers as
they attempt to attract
harems of cow elk.
Habitat: Rock piles
Viewing Tips: Look for marmots
sunbathing on rock outcroppings on
the tundra along Trail Ridge and
Old Fall River roads.
Habitat: All habitats
Viewing Tips: At lower elevations,
mule deer are most often found in
Habitat: All habitats
Viewing Tips: The coyote’s yipping and
howling sometimes is heard in the evening
Habitat: Stream beds and meadows
Viewing Tips: These large mammals
frequent willow thickets along the
Colorado River in the Kawuneeche
Valley on the park’s west side.
Habitat: Around willows and rock
outcrops on the alpine tundra
Viewing Tips: Look carefully. Their excellent
camouflage makes ptarmigans hard to spot.
8 See pages 10-11 for trip planning publications
W I L D
Rocky Mountain National Park has a
small population of black bears. Chances are
you won’t see one during your visit, but it is
very important that your actions do not attract
bears, which are, by nature, intelligent, curious
and hungry. Once a bear gets a taste of human
food, almost nothing will stop it from looking
for more. This leads to conflict with campers,
park visitors and homeowners, which can
eventually lead to the bear’s death.
“Food items" include food, drinks, toiletries,
cosmetics, pet food and bowls, and other
odoriferous attractants. At trailheads, please do
not leave any food items in your vehicle. On the
trail, keep food items with you at all times.
Always keep a clean campsite, in campgrounds
and in backcountry sites. Never leave food items
unattended. In campgrounds, store food items
inside vehicle trunks with windows closed and
doors locked or in park-provided bear boxes. At
backcountry campsites, all food items must be
stored in carry-in, carry-out hard-sided bear-
resistant storage containers.
Save a Bear’s Life!
Be Bear Aware!Be Bear Aware!
Habitat: Rocky mountainsides and canyons
Viewing Tips: Bighorn sheep often are seen at
Sheep Lakes from May through
mid-August. Keep your eyes peeled for lambs
Save a Bear’s Life!
RMNA Nature Stores
ä Field Guide to Wildlife Viewing in RMNP
ä Watchable Wildlife: RMNP Mammals
Summer in Rocky Mountain
National Park means green
meadows, shimmering lakes,
plentiful wildlife and flower shows
on the alpine tundra. But summer is
also the busiest season, when
parking areas can fill and some
roads and trails can be congested.
Many visitors find that autumn,
winter and spring offer different
opportunities, when it’s relatively
more quiet and less busy at Rocky
The park is open year-round.
Only Trail Ridge Road, Old Fall
River Road and some secondary dirt
roads are closed by winter’s heavy
snows, but both sides of the park
have miles of open roads to explore
More than half of the park’s
approximately three million annual
visitors arrive during June, July and
August, leaving the remainder of the
year much less crowded. An average
winter day sees only one-tenth the
number of people visiting than a
typical summer day.
In addition, autumn, winter and
spring offer an ever-changing palette
of colors and many different
As summer becomes autumn,
the shortening days trigger changes
in the natural world. Two of the
park’s most anticipated events occur
in September and October.
Elk begin moving to lower
elevations in preparation for the rut,
or mating season. Bulls display
magnificent racks of antlers, and
their eerie bugling carries across the
meadows and forests. Evenings and
early mornings are the best times to
observe and hear these animals.
Look for elk in park meadows, such
as Horseshoe Park, Beaver
Meadows and Moraine Park on the
park’s east side; Harbison Meadow
and the meadow at the Holzwarth
Historic Site on the west side.
Autumn comes early to the high
country and aspen trees, which
occur on both sides of the park, offer
the most brilliant colors. In the
Grand Lake area, aspen leaves start
turning gold in early September; on
the east side, Bear Lake starts turning
in mid-September; in the Estes Park
area in late September. Temperature,
rain, snow and wind affect when the
leaves turn and sometimes cause the
leaves to drop early.
A walk through the autumn
forests also reveals the reds and golds
of numerous understory plants.
Autumn days often are splendid –
crisp and clear with an occasional
Winter begins early at Rocky
Mountain’s high elevations. By mid-
November, the Kawuneeche Valley
may have enough snow for
snowshoe treks and long, gentle
cross-country ski tours.
For those not looking for snow,
some east side hiking trails can be
surprisingly snow-free – or nearly so –
year-round. Conditions change
regularly throughout the season, so
be sure to check at a visitor center, or
trail_conditions.htm, for the latest
hiking and snow conditions before
Wildlife viewing can be
especially rewarding in the
wintertime. The sights of a coyote
hunting in a snow-covered meadow,
of herds of elk with their breath
condensing in the air, of a cow and a
calf moose silhouetted against the
snow, are unforgettable park images.
Spring arrives at different times
in the park, depending on elevation
and slope. In the Kawuneeche Valley
and Bear Lake areas, spring
snowshoeing and skiing are
sometimes possible. Meanwhile,
lower-elevation areas are starting to
bud and bloom.
Mountain bluebirds, which start
returning from their winter grounds in
early March, are brilliant in flight.
Beginning in mid-March, look for
nesting raptors on Lumpy Ridge as
peregrine and prairie falcons, golden
eagles and red-tailed hawks nest on the
warm, sunny cliffs. In earlyApril, stroll
Moraine Park to search for the season’s
first wildflowers, including tulip-shaped
Pasqueflowers, pink Springbeauties and
yellow Sage buttercups. Also in early
April, ground squirrels and marmots
emerge from hibernation.
As the spring season progresses,
the melting snowline climbs higher
into the mountains. But, those
relatively few people who visited the
park during the autumn, winter and
spring know they and nature shared
some very special moments indeed. n
Rich in its variety of resources and human
history, the park’s Colorado River District west of the
Continental Divide is filled with opportunities for
adventure, exploration, solitude and reflection.
The Utes and the Arapahos were the most recent
American Indians to frequent the area. They did not
settle permanently, but their passages over high
mountain passes within the park were regular
occurrences. Today, following the Ute Trail from the
Alpine Visitor Center and descending to the
subalpine habitat that surrounds Milner Pass, the
footsteps of the Ute and Arapaho are almost audible
when hiking their ancient paths.
Active settlement in the park’s west began with
the homesteaders and miners who arrived in the late
1800s. These hardy settlers occupied the valley well
into the twentieth century. Today, a hiker might
imagine the raucous noise of a busy mining
community fading into the wind while walking a
pleasant 3 3/4 miles along the Colorado River to the
abandoned mining town of Lulu City on the
Colorado River Trail.
Along the way are abandoned mine entrances,
cabin ruins and other remnants of past inhabitants
and visitors. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
also was active along this trail in the 1930s, and the
Phantom Valley CCC Camp site was located only a
mile from the trailhead. The landscape has changed
over the years, but evidence of earlier inhabitants and
spectacular views are everywhere for discovery.
Families can begin their discovery into another
time on one of the family-friendly trails of the
Colorado River District. In 1920, the Holzwarth
Ranch opened as a dude ranch. Today, on many
summer days, tours of the restored ranch house and
outbuildings are offered at the end of a ½ mile walk
across the valley. Watch for wildlife here, as moose
and elk are frequent visitors to the area.
The Coyote Valley Trail is a one-mile wheelchair-
accessible loop along the Colorado River featuring
picturesque views of the Never Summer Mountains.
Further down the valley, a short 1/3 mile walk on the
East Inlet Trail offers dramatic views of Adams Falls
and of a gorgeous meadow just beyond.
For those who favor longer, more strenuous
hikes, forging another seven miles onward beyond
the falls (round trip)
leads past the meadow
to the top of The Devil’s
Staircase. A while after
passing the falls, the
climbing steadily for the
next mile. Hikers pause
to enjoy the emerging
westward views of
Grand Lake as they
climb the Devil’s
Staircase. This section of
trail seemingly was
etched out of the rock
wall. Finally, after a
sharp switchback, the trail arrives at its destination —
a rock shelf offering spectacular views.
Hikers then can choose to continue on to Lone
Pine Lake, a stunning subalpine lake (11 miles round
trip) with unsurpassed vistas of the surrounding
Longer, more challenging hikes also are available
on the park’s west side. For impressive views of Big
Meadows and of the “Big Meadows” burn area above
Granite Falls, the Onahu Trail Loop begins at Green
Mountain. For those with stamina, the Tonahutu Trail
Loop is a challenging 27-mile loop that passes
through some of the most beautiful alpine scenery
that the park has to offer. Here, a hiker can be
transported to new heights and enjoy intimate forests
and mountain streams.
A smorgasbord of delights awaits on the park’s
Scenery and Solitude on Rocky’s West Side
Moose are frequently seen
along the Colorado River in
the Kawuneeche Valley (Jack
Winter brings snow, serenity and regular wildlife sightings to Rocky
Mountain National Park. The park’s autumn, winter and spring seasons
offer smaller crowds and plentiful activities. (Gene Putney)
Peace, Nature Prevail
During the Quiet Seasons
Discover more winter acitivies in Rocky
Shooting star (Dodecatheon poeticum)
RMNA Nature Stores
ä The Best of the Kawuneeche Valley:
An Insider’s Guide
THE BEST OF
Rocky Mountain Nature
AWARD WINNER! In this beautiful
book, park ranger‐naturalists share
their knowledge of the region’s
mountain‐rimmed lakes, cascading
waterfalls, soaring summits,
fascinating wildlife, colorful plant life
and rich human history through the
four seasons. Accompanying their
accounts are breathtaking images
from top photographers. 32 pages,
Item# 2015 $5.95
THE BEST OF THE
A RMNP INSIDER’S GUIDE
Rocky Mountain Nature Association
In this beautifully
expert park ranger‐
naturalists point the
way to the special
in the Kawuneeche
Valley, its lakes,
waterfalls, peaks, passes, wildlife,
plant life and rich human history. It
is the perfect primer for anyone
seeking to explore the park’s wild,
wonderful west side in hiking
boots, on skis or atop snowshoes.
24 pages, softcover.
Item# 8289 $5.95
From the comfort
of your vehicle,
experience the stunning
scenic vistas, vast alpine
landscapes and fascinating wildlife
commonly seen along the highest
continuous paved highway in
North America. This self‐guided
tour booklet visits 12 marked stops
along Trail Ridge Road answering
many of the questions travelers
frequently ask park rangers. Let
this useful and beautifully
illustrated publication be your
guide to mountain adventure.
24 pages, softcover.
Item# 2 $2.00
Omer B. Raup
that created the
park’s amazing scenery come to
life in an extraordinary award‐
winning book written by a veteran
USGS geologist. Color photos and
informative text detail 17 stops
along Trail Ridge Road. This
beautiful best seller also features a
glossary and three‐dimensional
foldout map. See Trail Ridge Road
like never before!
75 pages, softcover.
Item# 2884 $14.95
FIELD GUIDE TO
IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN
Rocky Mountain Nature Association
Illustrations by Wendy Smith
this 40‐page guide
essential to wildlife
illustrations of the
ecosystems are followed
by individual fine‐art vignettes of
many mammals and birds
commonly seen in the respective
life zones. Additional text offers
expert information on species
identification, habitat and prime
park viewing locations, as well as
viewing tips and fast facts. 40
Item# 2894 $6.95
THE BIGHORN SHEEP
Rocky Mountain Nature Association
NEW! It’s spring in the
Rocky Mountains, and
Cimarron, the bighorn
lamb, is experiencing
the world around him
for the very first time.
Join Cimarron as he
comes face to face with Rocky
Mountain wildlife – ptarmigan,
beaver and a mountain lion! See how
Cimarron learns to adapt and
survive through the seasons in this
high mountain environment where
every day is an adventure! Kids ages
6‐70 will enjoy this story.
32 pages, softcover.
Item# 9706 $9.95
WILD & WATCHABLE
National Park is one of
America’s premier places
to view large mammals.
Patience, timing and luck
are key factors in locating them.
This guide features 7 of the large
mammals seen in Rocky Mountain
National Park. Learn about the
animals’ history, what they eat and
how they behave, and discover
some of the best viewing sites in
the park, and more. The more you
know about wildlife, the greater
your chance to observe these
amazing animals in the wild.
32 pages, softcover.
Item# 91 $5.95
ROCKY MTN. MAMMALS:
A HANDBOOK OF MAMMALS
OF RMNP AND VICINITY
David M. Armstrong
Revised, updated, and
illustrated with more
than 50 new color
guide was designed
for quick reference
reading. Accounts of
72 species describe
each animal and its signs, habits,
habitat and natural history. This
lavishly illustrated new edition
includes wildlife watching support, a
checklist with page numbers for
quick field reference, an
identification key, a glossary,
derivations of scientific names and
advice on how, when and where to
288 pages, softcover.
Item# 1889 $19.95
ROCKY MTN. NAT’L. PARK:
A YEAR IN PICTURES
A rich photographic showcase of
scenery in RMNP.
More than 100
progression of the seasons. Images of
rugged mountains, alpine lakes
and rushing streams are
complemented by intimate
wildflower and wildlife photos.
64 pages, softcover.
Item# 2672 $9.95
This book is the essential
guide for motorists.
stunning scenery, a profusion of
animals, and the park’s fascinating
human history This helpful book
includes road maps with side‐by‐
side commentaries. 93 pages,
Item# 2823 $8.95
SPIRIT OF THE
National Park Service
cinematography, expert narrative
and a captivating original music
score, this high‐definition film
captures the park’s grandeur
through the four seasons. Visitors
experience this award‐winning
production in park visitor centers.
Item# 6772 $9.95
10 Call 1-800-816-7662 to order, or visit www.rmna.org
Visit w w w. r m n a . o r g
• See more products available at our online bookstore
• Get information about RMNA and the park
ALPINE WILDFLOWERS OF THE
Beatrice E. Willard & Michael Smithson
REVISED EDITION! Written by leading tundra ecology
experts, this beautiful RMNA classic is a guide to
many of the wildflowers that carpet the alpine tundra
during the high country summer. 40 pages, softcover.
Item# 30 $5.95
A handy pocket guide to Rocky Mountain
wildflowers. Great for taking into the field.
123 pages, softcover. Item# 2675 $6.95
ROCKY MOUNTAIN RUSTIC:
HISTORIC BUILDINGS OF THE
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
James Lindberg, Patricia Raney &
Early settlers came to today’s park area
with dreams of cattle ranches, farms,
productive mines, successful commercial
ventures or summer homes amid the
stunning scenery. They left behind one of the
West’s premier collections of historic lodges, guest ranches,
cabins and retreats. Accompanying the beautiful contemporary
and historical images in this best‐selling coffee table classic are
the stories behind the buildings. 176 pages, softcover.
Item# 2881 $19.95
Shop at the Rocky Mountain Nature Association
Your Purchase Makes a Difference
These products have been selected by the nonprofit
Rocky Mountain Nature Association (RMNA) for their
usefulness in planning a visit to Rocky Mountain
National Park. RMNA proceeds help support
important park programs.
Be sure to visit the RMNA bookstores at:
►Alpine Visitor Center
► Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
► Fall River Visitor Center
► Kawuneeche Visitor Center
► Moraine Park Visitor Center
Rocky Mountain Nature Association • P.O. Box 3100 • Estes Park, CO 80517 • (970) 586-0108
This spectacular DVD tour lets you
experience the best of Rocky
Mountain National Park, its
towering peaks, glacier‐carved
canyons, crystal‐clear lakes,
incredible wildlife and distinctive
seasons. Includes beautiful
landscape footage, Trail Ridge
Road scenes and wildlife.
Item# 888 $19.95
Nick Mollé Productions
scenery at every turn
as you enter the world
of Real Rocky, from a
over Trail Ridge Road, to hiking
deep in the backcountry. Climb
mountains, , and flyfish high
country lakes. Hike many other
wilderness destinations, and view
elk, bighorn sheep, moose and
other park wildlife. 67 minutes
Item# 889 $19.95
RIVERS OF ROCKY
Nick Mollé Productions
Visit the breathtaking
wonders of the
mountain lakes and
streams where wildlife
abounds. Enter the
world of elk, moose, bears,
marmots, beavers and many more
critters. Discover the source of the
mighty Colorado River and follow
it on its journey west. 60 minutes.
Item# 8297 $19.95
GUIDED TOUR OF
TRAIL RIDGE ROAD
This CD describes the awe‐inspiring
route along Trail
Ridge Road from
Estes Park to the
on the park’s west
side. The trip comes alive as expert
narratives by rangers, naturalists
and a historian describe the famed
auto route’s history, geology,
wildlife, plant life and more.
Item# 3381 $13.95
The tenth edition of this
guidebook to the park
and the Indian Peaks
Wilderness is the
hiker’s bible. Detailed
descriptions, maps, charts and
illustrations show the way to all
destinations. 304 pages, softcover.
Item# 8597 $16.95
Written by a veteran
climber, this book is
especially recommended for first‐
time Longs Peak trekkers. A member
of a family of Longs Peak
mountaineers, the author offers route
descriptions and trip preparation
80 pages, softcover.
Item# 655 $8.95
Dave and Hal Rusk
A great pocket guide covering 24
hikes in the park. Elevation
profiling gives hikers an idea of the
terrain out there on Rocky
Mountain National Park’s
spectacular hiking trails.
68 pages, softcover.
Item# 187 $5.95
Jack & Elizabeth Hailman
This is the first guide
dedicated exclusively to
loop trails in Rocky
Mountain National Park. Included
are descriptions and maps detailing 33
treks, with detailed driving
instructions to the access points. Hikes
range from an easy stroll around a lake
to multi‐day back‐ packing trips.
240 pages, softcover.
Item# 3471 $19.95
newspaper offers a
broad range of hiking options
available in six regions of RMNP.
Includes maps, trail descriptions,
mileage, difficulty levels and trails
checklist. 8 pages.
Item# 2895 $1.00
Call 1-800-816-7662 to order, or visit www.rmna.org 11
RMNP DVD & BOOK SPECIAL
SUPER SAVINGS! Planning your visit to Rocky Mountain National
Park? Want to kick back and relive pleasant mountain memories?
This special multimedia package is for you. Includes the excellent
Rocky Mountain National Park: Spirit of the Mountains DVD ($9.95)
enjoyed by thousands of visitors in the park’s visitor centers each
year and Rocky Mountain National Park: A Year in
Pictures,photographer David Dahms’ popular $9.95 book
capturing the park’s beauty through the four seasons. Retail value: $19.90
Item# 3227 Package price: $14.95
BEST SELLER! Includes the best‐
selling book Hiking Rocky Mountain
National Park, a $16.95 retail value, and
Trails Illustrated’s popular park topo
map, which retails for $11.95. Hikers,
this best‐selling package is your key to
unforgettable park adventures at a special savings.
Retail value: $28.90!
Item# 33 Package price $25.95
TO PLACE AN ORDER, GO TO
from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (MT)
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
The park’s best general hiking trail map. Based on the
standard USGS topo map, this regularly updated,
accurate, user‐friendly, version includes safety tips and
important regulations. Fifty‐foot contours, scale: 1 to
50,000. Waterproof and tearproof.
Item# 172 $11.95
LONGS PEAK/BEAR LAKE/WILD BASIN
Forty‐foot contour intervals offer greater detail to
backcountry explorers in this popular region.
and tearproof, scale 1 to 25,000.
Item# 2584 $9.95
INDIAN PEAKS/GOLD HILL
This map of the Indian Peaks area is a backpack
essential for all hikers and climbers. Waterproof,
tearproof. Forty‐foot contours, scale 1 to 25,000.
Item# 61 $11.95
Visit w w w. r m n a . o r g
• See more products available at our online bookstore
• Get information about RMNA and the park
BUY AND SAVE! You’re ready
to go with this special package.
Includes A Day in Rocky, Bear
Lake Nature Trail, Moraine Park
Museum and Interpretive Trail,
Guide to Old Fall River Road,
Ouzel Country (Wild Basin) and
newspaper: Hiking Adventures
in Rocky Mountain National Park.
See you in the park!
Retail value: $11.95
Item# 2924 Package price: $9.95
® Seminars offered in photography,
geology, wildlife, plants, history,
art & outdoor skills
® Classes for kids and families
® Half-day and multi-day classes
® Custom courses &step-on tours
® Credit available
Call for a free
A program of the Rocky Mountain Nature Association
MEMBER OF THE
and save 15% on books
and maps and a host of
wonderful park items
12 See pages 10-11 for trip planning publications
All passes are available at all park entrance stations. Payment for fees and passes must be
by U.S. currency, coin, check (payable to the National Park Service), or American Express,
Visa, Master Card or Discover credit cards. Debit cards are accepted by the park.
Automobile 7-day pass $20
Motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, $10 per person, not to exceed
mopeds $20 per vehicle.
Rocky Mountain National Park $40 pass provides unlimited
Annual Pass entry to Rocky for 1 year.
Rocky Mountain National Park/ $50 pass provides unlimited
Arapaho National Recreation Area entry to both areas for 1 year.
America the Beautiful Interagency Pass* $80 provides unlimited entry to
federal recreation sites (including
National Parks)thatcharge anentrance
or standard amenity fee for 1 year.
America the Beautiful Senior Pass* $10 lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or
permanent residents age 62 or over.
America the Beautiful Access Pass* Free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or
permanent residents with a
America the Beautiful Military Pass* Free unlimited entry to federal
recreation sites for active duty military
personnel and dependents with
required proper identification (CAC
card or DD form 1173) for 1 year.
Bear Lake Road & Hiker
The Bear Lake Road corridor is served by two shuttle routes:
Bear Lake Route ~ Moraine Park Route
The shuttle is free to park visitors.
Rocky Mountain National Park and the Town of Estes Park
operate a Hiker Shuttle connecting the Estes Park visitor center,
the park’s Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and the Park & Ride
on Bear Lake Road. The shuttle is free, but a park pass (available
in automated fee machines at the Estes Park and Beaver Meadows
visitor centers) is required.
RMNP Shuttle Bus Schedule 2014
Bear Lake & Moraine Park Routes:
Daily service - 6/14 through 10/12
Weekends - 5/24, 5/25, 5/26, 5/31,
6/1, 6/7, 6/8
Daily service - 6/28 through 9/7
Weekends - 9/13, 9/14, 9/20, 9/21,
9/27, 9/28, 10/4, 10/5, 10/11, 10/12
Park Entrance Fees